Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Tea Room, Gunners' Barracks, Mosman

I've been looking forward to this for a long time. If you have been following my blog long enough, you will know of my love for afternoon teas, in particular my obsession with scones. I very badly wanted to visit Gunners' Barracks for my birthday last year, but unfortunately they were fully booked and we ended up having those horrible, cheesy fail scones at Sir Stamford. So as soon as we could, we were booked in for a table at The Tea Room. I had visited the QVB Tea Room, which was the best high tea I'd had in Sydney so far, so I had a good feeling that these would make up for the last cheesy scones. The location is gorgeous - a popular wedding venue, and with the Royal Albert china, I knew I would like the setting for this afternoon tea.
As we walk in, we can see the other tables enjoying their afternoon teas. The room looks warm, cozy and inviting on this particularly cool day. Unfortunately for us, our table is out on the balcony, exposed to a rather chilly sea breeze. On most other days I would have LOVED to be outside, with the stunning view over the water and sunshine, but unluckily for us the wind was biting and our fingertips were soon icy. The staff were as helpful as they could be, pulling an outdoor heater closer to us, and providing us with these fantastic thick shrugs to wrap around us.
I had been planning to use this outing as an excuse to try out my borrowed DSLR for the first time, but annoyingly I forgot it so you will have to put up with the usual point & shoot photos. We quickly decided what teas we wanted from their wide selection, eager to get something steamy and hot to drink. The service was wonderful, efficient and friendly and it doesn't take long for our tea, plates and tiers of food to be whisked over to our table.
The three tiers of sweets elicits the expected coos and squeals from the girls. Because we are quite a large table, the sandwiches, scones and warm savouries come out on separate plates. I'm pleasantly surprised by the serving sizes - there's definitely more food than what I had at the QVB tea room.
Blueberry Muffin Tea
The cold weather is quickly forgotten once the tea and food arrives. It didn't take me long to pick my tea, how could I choose anything else after seeing they had a blueberry muffin flavoured tea?! It was lovely, it really did smell like freshly baked blueberry muffins without being too sweet or artificial and I finished my first pot quickly. The staff were more than happy to top up our emptied tea pots with more hot water.
Finger Sandwiches - Roast Beef, Egg Salad, Smoked Salmon
Excuse me if I'm a little vague on the descriptions of all the food we ate, we never actually had anyone explain exactly what we were served. But it wasn't too hard to guess, the sandwiches were quite large for finger sandwiches. So large that I only managed to eat one of the three that I was given. The one I ate was tasty, with moist roast beef and nice slathering as horseradish cream. Though I do kind of wish they had my favourite cucumber sandwiches on offer.

Samosas with yoghurt dipping sauce and asparagus puff pastry tartlets (behind)
The warm savoury food was quite nice, better than many of the savouries I've had at other high teas. The samosas had a nice big sprinkling of sea salt on top which went with with the lightly fragrant filling. The bite sized puff pastry was light and flaky, with a nice asparagus filling.
The most important measure of a good high tea, the scones. The were HUGE!! Though they were as beautifully golden and crunchy on the outside and fluffy and soft in the middle, I kind of wish they were a little bit smaller like their QVB cousins. They filled me up so much that I could barely finish mine and it stopped me from eating other things.
The scones came served with cream and blueberry jam. It was interesting to see them serving something other than strawberry jam, and though this might have bothered me any other day, it went well with my blueberry muffin tea so I was happy. The scones went cold very quickly thanks to the wind, but there was not much anyone could do about that :(
Cheesecake and glazed apricot cakes
After a short break to recover my appetite, I eagerly tucked into the sweets that sat prettily on the three tiered stand. The cheesecake was quite nice, the base was a little soggy but the filling was soft and fluffy. I think it may have been mascarpone, which went well with the slice of glazed strawberry on top. We weren't sure what the little cakes were, at first glance they almost looked like profiteroles sitting inside patty cake cases, but they were actually these gorgeous buttery peach cakes and I gobbled mine up.
Chocolate and orange macaron and a layered chocolate sponge cake
The little chocolate gateau sounded like it tasted delicious, apparently with coffee and chocolate but there were also nuts in one of the layers so I had to give it a miss. Though I tend to avoid eating macarons these days since I make them often enough to be sick of them, this was one macaron that I could not skip. It was perfectly baked, not cloyingly sweet like many macarons thanks to the orange flavour and a rich chocolate ganache. It was perfect to nibble on while sipping at my tea. I've had issues with getting the temperature right in my oven while making macs recently and I was wishing I could make mine this well.
Without knowing it, we had saved the best part for last. Sitting on the top of our trays were these adorable little ramekins full of silky smooth mango pudding and sago. The mango pudding was so moreish, with a good punch of mango flavour. The light, smooth pudding went perfectly with the little bubbles of tapioca, and I was scraping my ramekin to get every last morsel.
Mango pudding with tapioca
We didn't stick around too long after, since the warmth from the tea and scones was wearing off and the wind was still rather gusty. I didn't realise they had a weekend surcharge, so our afternoon tea ended up costing $44 per person, which is pretty darn expensive for afternoon tea in Sydney. But you are paying for the quality and the location, and I was quite happy to pay it. It was a shame that it had been so windy, otherwise I would have definitely enjoyed the view a lot more and would have not wanted to be indoors. I think next time I will have to come on a warmer day, or specifically try to get a table inside. If you are going to visit Gunners' Barracks, make sure you book well ahead of time to avoid disappointment, they are always booked up. Even though nothing can beat a freshly baked homemade scone, the scones served up at both the Tea Rooms are probably the best you'll find around Sydney, and the desserts at Gunners' Barracks are some of the best I've had at an afternoon tea.
Ooh sailboats!
The Tea Room Gunners' Barracks
End of Suakin Drive,
Off Middle Head Road,
Georges Heights, NSW 2088

(02)8962 5900
Morning tea served daily from 11am-12pm
Afternoon tea served daily from 11am
Tea Room Gunners' Barracks on Urbanspoon
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  1. Have heard good things about the high tea here. The mango pudding sounds delicious and ahem, I don't think I'd ever complain about scones that were too big! lol. A shame you forgot the DSLR although I think your pics are fine as they are anyway :)

  2. This food looks great. I love the dainty treats served at afternoon tea.

  3. I keep telling myself that I need to bring my girlfriends here, but no luck as of yet. The treats look divine and so well presented - especially the mango pudding, the tapioca pearls look like gems!

  4. Def one of the better afternoon teas I ever had in Sydney (the other being The Four Seasons). But I'm still itching to try the QVB Tea Room! At least there's no chance of sitting outside LOL.

    We need to a road trip pronto for the yummiest of scones :)

  5. Sofitel next (hehe) ;) I love high tea! I'm so glad that these scones were good, unlike the cheesy fail scones of our previous experience!

  6. I haven't been here for Afternoon Tea, but I have been for a wedding, and the food and location were very nice. Such a beautiful spot. But you're right, that terrace, though it has stunning view, is FREEZING

  7. It was such a nice afternoon tea - shame about the wind and the cold though! How awesome was the mango pudding!

  8. I've wanted to go to this place for so long, I live in the area so I have no reason not to! Thanks Step, this will go on to my list :D

  9. The scenery and atmosphere is gorgeous there. It's a shame of the chilly weather but good company and good scones will make up for that.

  10. OOh I'm so envious..Look so lovely. I was going to go there recently but I stuffed up the booking :'( I had better get back on the wait list!

  11. scones scones sconnnessssss XD pity bout the wind but still good timesss!

  12. everything looks really good! the food and the view.. very nice afternoon tea indeed :)haven't been there myself, but my friend had her wedding there...definitely a pretty place

  13. Oh thank god for that, if anyone deserves a good scone-y arvo it's you :) LOVE the idea of finishing it all off with mango pudding and sago! I wouldn't have thought they'd serve something like that, for some reason.

  14. That was so lovely to read, I almost felt like I was there. Thank you!

  15. Bluberry tea? Very interesting!
    Looks like you all had a wonderful time. Food looks dainty and cute, just perfect

  16. This place really is gorgeous and I'm loving the look of those huge scones! I recently went to a wedding reception here, such a gorgeous spot and sensational food

  17. I'm still cold...

    Despite sharing a blanket with a lovely man. I mean um despite the warm hospitality and tea.

  18. How cold was it... i thought I was going to get the flu when i got home.

    So happy we got to tick "Gunners" off the list. First time we locked a date in our diaries was on your birthday... where we went to la renaissance for coffee after the stamford.. that was hmm 6months ago?? LOLLL

  19. Helen (Grab Your Fork) - Hahaha I never thought I would either! And totally not complaining now, wishing i could have one right now :( aww thanks!

    Mark @ Cafe Campana - Same here, I am a high tea addict

    Zina @ tastedbytwo - yeah it took so long to finally go here! Love tapioca pearls :)

    Karen @ Citrus and Candy - Haha you better take me for those scones soon!

    Betty @ The Hungry Girl - ;) hehe of course! Same here, such a relief!

    Reemski - Yeah it's so bloody cold! Must go in summer next time. I'm going for a wedding there too! It's such a pretty location :)

    Jacq - It was worth the wind and the cold though :) Ahh loved the pudding!

    Maria - Oh you definitely have to go if you are close by! It's so pretty :)

    Ellie (Almost Bourdain) - Definitely made up for it. That and a shopping spree at burnt orange. Thanks for the tip ;)

    Ladybird - Oh that sucks! I wish they weren't always booked out!

    FFichiban - Whee more scones now please!

    YW - Yeh it does seem to be a very popular wedding venue, I'm not surprised!

    Conor - Haha yes I do deserve it don't I?! Same here, was totally surprised, but pleasantly so :)

    Patty - :) You're welcome!

    Brenda - Yes it was quite similar to the blueberry tea you can buy from ikea :)

    john@heneedsfood - I'm quite impressed with their food, must go try their lunch menu sometime

    The Ninja - Hahaha it was rather cold. You and your blanket man should have huddled closer for more warmth lol

    Leona - Same here! I think I may have gotten a cold :( Haha yeh it was 6 months ago...crazy!


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